The Moonsteel Crown is the first book in a new epic quest SF series with an ensemble cast of exquisitely rendered (but admittedly trope-y) characters by veteran speculative fiction author Stephen Deas. Released 9th Feb 2021 by Angry Robot, it's 384 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats.
I've been on a bad-luck run with my speculative fiction choices lately, so it was doubly refreshing to find a well written, engaging, epic group-quest introduction to a promising new series. It could be slightly benefiting by comparison to my recent dearth of good SF/fantasy reads, but I don't think so. It's a strong read, well plotted and put together, set in a realistically built up city-state with mages, thieves, battles, epic quests, powerful magical talismans, and a trio of heroes (badass female sword-monk, thief, and defrocked cleric straight to order).
I enjoyed watching the realistic interplay of the three main characters set against the overwhelming odds arrayed against them. The dialogue is well done and never clunky. There is a lot of snark, but I never found that it shaded over into irritating. There are some genuinely warm and humorous interactions and I found myself smiling throughout much of the book.
There is an average amount of strong language and some graphic violence. One place the author really shines is in his sleek battle and combat descriptions. No 34 page overwhelming massive battles full of strategic minutiae necessary (I'm looking at you, GRRM).
Four stars. Highly recommended for fans of the genre looking for new series to follow.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.